By Rick Steves
So much to see, so little time. How to choose? To help you get started, I've listed my top picks for where to go in Austria (and a few great spots just over the border), and my plan for your best two-week trip.
Depending on the length of your trip, and taking geographic proximity into account, these are following my recommended priorities:
- 3 days: Vienna
- 5 days: Salzburg
- 7 days, add: Hallstatt
- 10 days, add: Danube Valley, Bavarian Alps (Germany)/western Tirol
- 14 days, add: Innsbruck, Dolomites (Italy), Bratislava (Slovakia)
- 16 days, add: More time in Vienna
Rick’s Best Two-Week Austria Trip (by Train)
Day 2: Vienna (sleep in Vienna)
Day 3: Vienna (sleep in Vienna)
Day 4: Vienna (sleep in Vienna — or head to Melk in evening if biking or cruising Danube on Day 5)
Day 5: Danube Valley (Melk to Krems and back) (sleep in Melk)
Day 6: To Salzburg via Mauthausen (sleep in Salzburg)
Day 7: Salzburg (sleep in Salzburg)
Day 8: Salzburg (sleep in Salzburg)
Day 9: To Hallstatt* (sleep in Hallstatt)
Day 10: Hallstatt and Salzkammergut Lake District (sleep in Hallstatt)
Day 11: To Innsbruck (sleep in Innsbruck)
Day 12: Innsbruck; to Bavarian Alps** (sleep in Füssen or Reutte)
Day 13: Bavarian Alps and castles** (sleep in Füssen or Reutte)
Day 14: Fly home from Munich* (or train back to Vienna)
*For more cultural thrills at the expense of some alpine ones, you could give Bratislava two nights and a day rather than idyllic — but very touristy — Hallstatt.
**For days 12–13, you can head north to the Bavarian Alps (as outlined above) or turn south, to Italy's Dolomite peaks (home base in Bolzano or Castelrotto, and fly out from Milan or Venice).
Pick up your car when you leave Vienna. After Melk (in the Danube Valley), drive to Hallstatt, with a stop at Mauthausen en route. After Hallstatt, head to Salzburg. From Salzburg, you can drive (via Berchtesgaden, if you're interested) through southern Bavaria en route to Füssen or Reutte. Then drive eastward through Tirol's Inn Valley via Innsbruck to the Dolomites just south, then return to Innsbruck to drop off your car.
With More Time
Depending on your interests, you could easily spend several more days in Vienna (for museums, the music scene, and going to cafés and wine gardens) and a couple more days in Salzburg (for the music scene, nearby sights, day-tripping to Berchtesgaden). Surprising and quirky Bratislava, just over the Slovakian border from Vienna, is worth considering for two nights and an entire day. The countryside of southern Bavaria, western Tirol, and the Italian Dolomites are great places to linger and explore (consider a few days of car rental).